April 1 - GREENVILLE, Pa. – The Bethany baseball team took Thiel (16-5, 8-1) down to the wire Wednesday, but the Tomcats scored once in the bottom of the ninth inning to come away with a 7-6 victory.
The Bison (1-11, 0-6) opened the scoring in the first when sophomore DH Eric Fudala (Uniontown, Pa./Laurel Highlands) walked with two outs and raced all the way around to score on a double by freshman 1B Bryce Patterson (McKeesport, Pa.). That lead stood until the third when Thiel’s Eric Boylan hit a two-run homer, which was followed by a solo clout from Justin Scarpitti to put the hosts in front 3-1.
The Tomcats looked to add in the fourth and fifth innings against Bethany sophomore starter Mike Kochman (Pittsburgh, Pa./Serra Catholic), but the right-handed induced double plays in both frames to thwart potential threats and keep the BC deficit at two runs. Kochman would turn in one of the top efforts by a Bison starter this year, as he held Thiel, who leads the PAC in runs scored and is second in batting average, to just three runs on seven hits while striking out two in five innings.
In the top of the sixth, Bethany regained the lead. Freshman 2B Chad Stephen (Barnesville, Ohio) led off with a walk and scored on a double by Fudala. Following an error that allowed Patterson to reach and a sacrifice, senior 3B Scott Fraley (New Salem, Pa./Brownsville) laced an RBI double to tie the game. Freshman catcher T.J. Zarewicz (Pittsburgh, Pa./North Hills) picked up an RBI when he reached on another Tomcat error and Bethany led again 4-3.
Thiel evened the count at 4-4 with a run in the last of the sixth, but BC scrapped ahead again in the seventh when freshman RF Matt Hartig (McKeesport, Pa.) slugged an RBI double to score Fudala. Aided by a Bethany error, the Tomcats scored twice in the seventh to go ahead 6-5, only to see BC square the contest at 6-6 in the eighth. Stephen dropped an RBI single to score Fudala for the equalizer. The Bison nearly took the lead but the potential go-ahead run was thrown out trying to score on a fly out to right.
After Thiel went down in order in the eighth, Bethany was set down in the top of the ninth. The Tomcats immediately went to work in the bottom of the ninth, as Luke Johnson singled with one out and took third on a single by Jake Thomas. The final run came home on a perfectly placed bunt by Matt Stumpf that scored Johnson, giving Thiel the walk-off win.
For the Bison, Hartig went 3-for-4 and knocked in one to pace the offense. Stephen and Patterson both had a pair of hits and also collected one RBI, while Fudala was 1-for-3 with two walks and scored three times. Senior Josh Eckelberger (Beaver, Pa.) came in after Kochman in the sixth and ended up with the loss. He falls to 1-4 after giving up four runs, three earned, and striking out two in three and a third innings.
Bethany will have Thursday off before starting a three-game series with Waynesburg Friday afternoon. BC will take on the Yellow Jackets Friday in a single, nine-inning game at Mylan Park in Morgantown, W.Va. at 3 p.m. The Bison will host Waynesburg Saturday in a twinbill at Bethany Park to close out the series.